At just 10 months old, Thacious Makwala is a happy baby girl who loves music and has already overcome huge obstacles due to a life threatening congenital heart defect that stunted her growth. Thanks to life saving donations from two leading South African healthcare companies and a committed medical team, she is back home and making up for lost time after a highly specialised heart operation.
“She is not even a year old, and although she has already been through so much, our little girl is always smiling,” Thacious’s mother, Precious Makwala says.
“Thacious was born with ventricular septal defect [VSD], a large hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart. Unfortunately, as the child grows, this type of heart defect tends to damage the arteries of the lungs and this therefore needs to be corrected as soon as possible,” says cardiothoracic surgeon and co-founder of the Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute, Dr Erich Schürmann.
Thacious – whose name means ‘creativity’ and is a combination of her father Thabang and mother Precious’s names – is the latest beneficiary of the Heart to Heart Campaign. This corporate social investment (CSI) match funding challenge aims to raise awareness and resources for life saving operations for children born with debilitating heart conditions. The heart surgery was covered by donations from Medipost Holdings and the Netcare Foundation, which is the CSI arm of the Netcare Group.
“We thank Dr Schürmann and the medical team who donated their time and expertise pro bono to assist Thacious with this specialised procedure, and we wish her many happy and healthy years ahead to pursue her dreams,” says Rentia Myburgh, group sales and marketing director of Medipost Holdings, comprising Medipost Pharmacy, MediLogistics, Kawari Wholesaler and Distributor and the Medi Training Academy.
|Pic: Ten-month-old Thacious Makwala was born with a hole in her heart, and recently received a lifesaving heart operation sponsored by Medipost Holdings and the Netcare Foundation at the Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital. The team of specialists who performed the surgery also gave their services pro bono to help give Thacious a chance at life. Thacious is pictured with her mother, Precious Makwala at the hospital shortly after the procedure.
A difficult journey
“Our daughter is doing so well after the operation, and we are very thankful that she was able to have the operation at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital so soon because it has been a very difficult journey for our family since we found out there was something wrong with her heart. I have trouble with my eyesight which has made every step harder, and I am also unemployed. We are so thankful for all this support we have received to get the help our baby needed,” Precious says.
“I had no experience with babies, as Thacious is my first born, and it was my late mother’s older sister, Dorcus Manganye, who first realised there might be something wrong with Thacious. She took Thacious to Dr CN Phatudi Hospital, which is not too far from where we live in Pulaneng, near Tzaneen in Limpopo.
“It was very stressful because we didn’t know what was wrong. At the hospital they performed some tests and when they found there was a problem with her heart, they referred us to Letaba Hospital, and from there to Polokwane Provincial Hospital. It came as a huge shock when on 19 April this year, Thacious was diagnosed with a hole in her heart.
“They told us that she could get better with an operation but there is a long waiting list, and as time went by her heart problem was causing more damage to her body. We were so worried, but then at Steve Biko Academic Hospital the doctors told us there was a chance she could have the operation much sooner with help from the private sector. The hospital wrote a report and assisted us with the application, which ultimately led to Thacious being considered for surgery at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital.”
No time to lose
“When our colleagues brought Thacious’s condition to our attention, we knew that we had to act quickly to give her the best chance of a normal life and prevent her developing potentially life-threatening consequences because of untreated VSD,” Dr Schürmann adds.
The specialised VSD closure procedure to repair baby Thacious’s heart defect was performed by cardiothoracic surgeons Dr Schürmann and Dr Hendrick Mamorare of the Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute, paediatric cardiologist Dr Jane Pilusa who practises at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital who all committed their time and expertise to help Thacious without charge.
After the operation, which was performed on 7 September, Thacious spent just three nights in hospital before she was well enough to be discharged and her mother reports that she has been getting better every day. “She has so much more energy now and her appetite is much better. Just a month after the operation, she’s gaining weight already. She likes eating soft porridge with milk and when we put songs on at home, she gets all excited and moves to the music – I think she will be a good dancer one day,” Precious says.
“We are very thankful to the nurses and doctors who looked after our daughter so well, and to Medipost Holdings, the Netcare Foundation, and the cardiac specialists for their generosity in making it possible for Thacious to have the operation. I also would like to thank the whole team from Polokwane Hospital and the other public hospitals involved for setting in motion what led us to accessing this treatment in time.”
Mande Toubkin, general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment at Netcare, and a trustee of the Netcare Foundation, says that Thacious’s positive prognosis shows what is possible with healthcare cooperation between the public and private sector.
“Tragically, there are still many more children in need of life saving procedures such as this. Working together, much more can be achieved for them so that they too may have the chance to thrive and make their mark in the world. There can be few CSI initiatives more rewarding than investing in the health of a child,” Toubkin concludes.
For more information about the Maboneng Foundation, which coordinates sponsorship of the procedures, or to make a donation please visit http://www.mabonengfoundation.co.za/.
For more information on Medipost Holdings companies’ services, please visit https://medipost.co.za/, https://kawari.co.za/, https://medilogistics.co.za/ and https://meditraining.medipost.co.za/.
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